March 31, 2015
Monterey resident Casey Boyns finally captured the title that kept getting away.
Boyns, a member of the California Golf Hall of Fame, shot a final round 75 at par-72 Spyglass Hill and held off a slew of challengers to finish at 2-over 146, winning the annual NCGA Senior Championship on Tuesday by one over runner-up Jeff Burda of Modesto.
With the win, Boyns increased his record for overall NCGA Amateur Tour titles to 20 (five Senior, 16 Regular). The NCGA Senior Championship may be the sweetest of them all.
“I’m pretty content now in regards to bucket list items,” the 59-year-old said. “It feels good to scratch this one off.”
In 2013, Boyns appeared to have his first Senior Championship title locked up. But that was before a disastrous quintuple-bogey 10 on the par-4 14th at Spyglass Hill. He’d go on to lose in a sudden-death playoff to Gary Vanier.
Last year, a front-nine score of 46 in the first round doomed Boyns. He’d finish the championship two behind winner Jim Knoll.
“That loss in 2013 really hurt,” Boyns said. “I thought I had it won. After that I remember thinking, ‘I’m never going to win it.’ I know the older you get, the harder it gets.”
This time around, even an under the weather Boyns came through.
Having entered the day a shot behind leader Conrad Nilmeier, Boyns got going early with a pair of birdies on the 3rd and 5th holes to get to a total of 3-under, giving him the outright lead.
But then the past raised its ugly head. On hole No.6, he’d card a bogey, and on the 7th he’d card a double-bogey. Another bogey on the 9th and he was back to 1-over for the championship, three behind Nilmeier and one stroke behind Woodbridge Golf and Country Club member Mitch Harrison.
Also in the mix was Burda, a two-time former champion who was at 2-over after a front-nine 38
“Suddenly I was hitting the ball all over the place,” said Boyns, who had a front-nine 38. “I’m going, ‘Oh no, not again.’”
After making the turn, to make things even more interesting the wind picked up. While Boyns would hold steady, Harrison and Nilmeier saw their scorecards blow up. Burda, meanwhile, was unable to make enough of a push to catch Boyns.
Following a great up and down on No.10, Boyns picked up another stroke with a birdie on the par-5 11th. On both the 12th and 13th, where he’d go long left and over the green, Boyns again managed to get up and down for par.
On the same stretch of holes (No.10 through No.13), Nilmeier went 3-over with three bogeys. Harrison went 2-over with a pair of bogeys and Burda went 1-over with a bogey.
Upon reaching the 14th tee, Boyns was at a total of even par, one ahead of Harrison, two ahead of Nilmeier and three in front of Burda.
“With Conrad (Nilmeier) making those bogeys it turned into a four shot swing over those holes,” Boyns said. “From then on I was like, ‘Okay, now I’m in position to win this thing. I just need to par out.”
Boyns would stumble in with a back-to-back bogeys on the 17th and 18th, but it wouldn’t matter. On the back-nine, Burda shot 37, while Harrison had a 40 and Nilmeier shot 44.
Burda had the best chance to catch Boyns, but had to settle for pars on his final five holes for a 75.
“Casey let me finish a stroke behind,” said Burda with a smile. “He played great.”
Nilmeier, who was looking for his first win in over a year, followed up a 70 with an 80 to fall into a tie for fifth. Harrison, 56, finished third at 148 after a 77.
“I was confused by the wind on the back-nine,” Nilmeier said. “I flew a wedge over the 15th green and on No.16 I hit it through the fairway.”
While the wind left some players guessing, Boyns, who was battling a cold, felt at ease in it. The longtime Pebble Beach caddie has looped at Spyglass Hill hundreds of times.
“It certainly helps knowing the course,” Boyns said. “The wind swirls around the trees. Some holes it swirls around the same way.”
The low rounds of the day came from defending NCGA Senior Match Play champion Dan Bieber and defending NCGA Super Senior Championship champion Herb Jensen, who each shot 72. Jensen, who turns 66 in June, finished alone in fourth place at 149, while Bieber joined Nilmeier and three others at T-5.
Defending champion Jim Knoll had a 79, falling into a tie for 15th.
“With the weather conditions it was hard,” Knoll said. “It was also hard to make putts.”
March 30, 2015
Fresno resident Conrad Nilmeier grabbed the lead, leaving a pack of big names in pursuit.
Nilmeier, a member of San Joaquin Country Club, shot to the top of the leaderboard in Monday’s first round of the annual NCGA Senior Championship at par-72 Spyglass Hill with a solid 2-under 70. Among the names within four strokes of the lead, however, include four-time NCGA Player of the Year Casey Boyns, two-time NCGA Senior Championship winner Jeff Burda and four-time defending NCGA Senior Player of the Year Jim Knoll.
At least for a day, it was the 62-year-old Nilmeier, who reached match play at last year’s U.S. Senior Amateur Championship, who was the one in charge.
The Fresno resident started his round slowly, posting a front-nine 1-over 37 after carding a double-bogey on the par-3 5th. But on his back-nine Nilmeier warmed up, carding a stellar 3-under 33.
Included in his run were a birdie on No.11, back-to-back birdies on holes No.14 and No.15 and another birdie on the par-4 17th. Even with a bogey on the 16th, he’d play his final 11 holes at 3-under.
Just a stroke behind the leader following matching rounds of 1-under 71 are Woodbridge Golf and Country Club member Mitch Harrison and the always-threatening Boyns.
Harrison, who finished second at the Antioch City Two-Man Best-Ball in November, also made his move on the Spyglass back-nine. Starting his day on the 10th hole, Harrison quickly got to 2-under with birdies on holes No.11 and No.12. A bogey on the 16th and a birdie on the 17th left the 56-year-old with a front-nine 34. A back-nine 37 featured eight straight pars and a bogey on the 9th.
For Boyns, it was nearly déjà vu. A year after posting a 6-over 42 on his front-nine during the first round, the California Golf Hall of Famer opened with a front-nine 38. The longtime Pebble Beach Golf Links caddie righted the ship after making the turn though, posting a 33 with five birdies and two bogeys.
The NCGA Senior Championship is the only championship missing from Boyns’ NCGA portfolio. Last year, the now 59-year-old Boyns finished tied for second place.
Burda, who won the championship in 2008 and 2010 and would join Jim McMurtrey, Cornelius Bertolone and Kai Thomsen as the only three-time winners of the event with a victory, is just two behind Nilmeier after an opening 72. The 2008 Senior Player of the Year was hot out of the gates, quickly getting to 3-under with three straight birdies on holes No.3 through No.5. Following the outburst, he’d play his last 13 holes at 3-over.
At three strokes off the lead are Serrano CC member Mark Morgan and Terry Foreman, who each opened with 73’s. Foreman has reached the finals of the NCGA Senior Amateur Match Play Championship each of the last three years, winning the title in 2012.
Others in the mix include Knoll, Dale Bouguennec and Joey Ferrari. Knoll, who won the championship last year after opening with a first round leading 71 and Bouguennec, who won the AmateurGolf.com Senior Wine Country Cup in January, are tied with Dan Boone and Greg O’Malley at 74.
Ferrari, who returned to golf with a victory at last year’s NCGA Senior Valley Amateur, is among six players tied for 11th at 75.
The winner of the NCGA Senior Championship will receive 500 points in the standings for Senior Player of the Year. Mark Miller, who entered the event holding the No.1 spot, opened with a 77.
Jim Ono, a Super Senior, pulled off the shot of the day, holing out for eagle on the par-4 9th from 180 yards out.
Tuesday’s final round will tee off 7:30 a.m. off holes No.1 and No.10.
March 24, 2014
Things certainly didn’t look good for Sunnyvale resident Jim Knoll.
Through his first four holes of the second round of the 2014 NCGA Senior Championship at Spyglass Hill, Knoll went 4-over with four straight opening bogeys.
“I missed every putt I could miss those first four holes,” Knoll said. “Other than putting though I was playing fine.”
He’d eventually get things going enough on the greens to play his other 14 holes at just 1-over, giving him a 5-over 77 and an eventual two-stroke win over co-runner-ups Casey Boyns and Steve Wilson.
As Knoll acknowledged later, it was the first round that had made the difference. The 61-year-old was the lone player to shoot under par in the opening round, carding a 1-under 71. The score would give Knoll a three stroke lead over his nearest pursuer, AmateurGolf.com member Douglas Williams.
“For all intents and purposes, I probably won it on Monday,” said Knoll, who picked up his second NCGA Senior Championship title in four years, having also hoisted the crystal trophy in 2011. “I knew I was in good shape coming into the final round.”
While Saturday is known as ‘Moving Day’ on the PGA Tour, being a 36-hole event both days of the NCGA Senior Championship, which begins Monday, are crucial. Toss in some potential Spyglass Hill weather, and things become that much more difficult.
Steve Wilson had a chance to keep up with Knoll in the first round, but was stung by a double-bogey on the par-4 9th— his final hole of the day–that left him with a 75.
“I hit the ball really well. With Jim starting with a three stroke lead (four over Wilson), you know you have to do something,” Wilson said. “He had a bad day and still ended up winning the championship.”
Boyns, whose NCGA resume is only missing an NCGA Senior Championship title, also came out slowly, carding a first round 77 that featured two bogeys and a triple-bogey on his first three holes. He’d post a 73 in the second round, but by then it was too late.
“I felt like I was going to do it,” Boyns said. “I just got a little tired.”
Along with the prestige of winning the NCGA Senior Championship, the event can play a pivotal role in the race for NCGA Senior Amateur Tour Player of the Year honors. With his victory last year, Knoll grabbed the 500 points affixed to the event. Having also won the California State Senior Amateur crown, Knoll would never look back on his way to earning a record fourth consecutive Senior Player of the Year award.
Entering this year’s championship, the event will again play a huge role in the NCGA Senior Player of the Year standings. As of March 20, Mark Miller led with 793 points, but there were four players—John Pate, Jeff Burda, Knoll and Boyns—who were within 400 or so points of Miller.
Pate, who lives in Southern California but is an NCGA member through AmateurGolf.com, won the 2014 California State Senior Championship at Poppy Hills. Boyns has a win at the AmateurGolf.com Christmas Classic and Burda was runner-up at the State Senior.
Other players who could make a big move include Dale Bouguennec, Terry Foreman and Gary Vanier. Bouguennec is coming off a strong winter that included a win at the AmateurGolf.com Senior Wine Country Cup. Foreman recently captured the Jim Lathum Salinas Senior Match Play crown, and Vanier won this year’s Antioch Master/Senior.
Play in the championship both Monday and Tuesday will begin at 7:30 a.m. off holes No.1 and No.10.